The history of mothers’ day: how it came to be


This is a picture representing the holiday Mothers’ Day with a mother holding a baby. (Monique Varela/ Ethic News photo)

Mothers’Day is a day where people celebrate their mothers and motherly figures. Whether it be by showering them with gifts, a hug or some flowers, it’s a national holiday that is celebrated in many countries. Though it is widely celebrated, many people don’t know how this famous holiday came to be.

The holiday began with a woman in Philadelphia with the name of Anna Jarvis. Her mother organized many women groups. These groups were promoting friendship and health which is also one of the main reasons why Mothers’ Day exists now.

Jarvis’ mother’s name was Ann Reeves Jarvis, her health began to decline and later died on May 9, 1907. Days later on May 12, he held a memorial at her mother’s church which is located in Grafton, West Virginia, which she would continue to visit on that date every year. 

Within five years, many states and people began to notice the date because of the amount of time she put into it and the groups she organized. One of these people who noticed was the 28th President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson. In 1914,  President Wilson made Mothers’Day a national holiday.

Anna Jarvis wore a certain color, carnation white, as a tribute to her late mother. Though as the holiday grew to popularity it became a custom to wear a red or a pink color to represent a mother who is alive and a white color for a mother who is deceased.

As the holiday continues to be celebrated by many, more than just mothers began being celebrated on mothers day. Roles such as grandmothers, aunts and sisters also began to be celebrated on this day.

As much as many people appreciate the holiday and constantly celebrate it, Jarvis did not appreciate the holiday becoming so world wide. She felt the holiday was becoming something that people were gaining a profit from and did not like the idea of people spending so much money on extravagant gifts. She spent the last years of her life trying to get rid of the holiday she unintentionally made. 

Jarvis began going to florist shops and began protesting the marketing of the flowers which later turned into arrests for public disturbance. She later went to the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, for using the holiday to promote health care for women and children. However, some people have thought it was hypocritical because Jarvi’s mother was actually an advocate for community health.

Millions of dollars are still being spent on flowers and extravagant gifts however, which Jarvis actively wanted to get rid of. As much as Jarvis wanted the holiday to be abolished, it is loved and celebrated by many around the world.

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